Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This AP story through Yahoo news is about an upcoming Vanity Fair article, an insiders' oral history of the Bush administration.


The headline is about the mortal blow to Bush's credibility dealt by the Katrina Kollapse, but there are three other equally interesting quotes:

- Bush's knowledge of and interest in the world is similar to Sarah Palin's;

- Cheney was firstest and bestest at exploiting this vacuum;

- Bush's people at the highest levels scoffed at the religious right.

This last point is kind of encouraging, in a sick sort of way.  The quotee is David Kuo, the sincere and semi-rational deputy in the Office of Faith Based stuff:

The reality in the [Bush]  White House is if you look at the most senior staff you're seeing people who aren't personally religious and have no particular affection for people who are religious-right leaders," Kuo said.

"In the political affairs shop in particular, you saw a lot of people who just rolled their eyes at ... basically every religious-right leader that was out there, because they just found them annoying and insufferable.

It's good to know that Bushie talk about faith and religious values was total, cynical bullshit. They were playing to a constituency  they despise.

Politics as usual, this demonstrates once again the generally negative correlation between religious faith and IQ.


[The above picture will be included in the upcoming book, BIBLES AND BLOWJOBS: The Bill Clinton Story.]

Remember the Texas televangelist/faithhealer, Robert Tilton, who asked his listeners to send in "prayer requests" along with their offerings...  The idea was that the preacher would personally pray over each prayer request, which would increase the chances of the donors' wishes being granted.

This was before Al Gore went all weird behind the word lockbox, by which he meant, a box that is locked.

Lockbox is the name of a banking service in which, for a fee, a bank will receive mail, open it, and deposit the enclosed cash and checks to a particular account.  We sometimes see this in stories about the survivors of catastrophes-- "A special fund has been set up, send donations to Survivors Fund, First National Bank, Yourtown etc."

So, someone (ABC News) found a huge number of Robert Tilton's prayer requests in a dumpster behind a bank branch. The bank was providing lockbox service to the minister.

Part of the lockbox service is the disposition of any material other than money (prayer requests, for instance) that may be enclosed in the envelopes. "Hold for pick-up," would be one option.


In Tilton's case, the instructions to the bank were: deposit the money and dump everything else.

It's like, people have real needs.

Tilton's cynicsm makes Jimmy Swaggert's transgression--masturbating while looking at naked prostitutes--seem almost charming.

There's a really funny story about Robert Tilton, written by Steve Rowe of the Dallas Observer here, with this auspicious lead in:

Sitting in Ross Perot's favorite booth at a fancy Dallas restaurant, Leigh Valentine eats half of her low-fat redfish and then explains her husband's "disguise kit." The kit contained several fake moustaches and a $1,200 custom-made wig. Robert Tilton, the Texas televangelist, carried it everywhere, and during their first year of marriage he wore disguises "50 percent of the time," Valentine says.

Highly amusing.

All the small donors to Obama: pretty much the same thing.

----- o -----

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monopoly (game)

According to Wikipedia Monopoly is the most popular board game in the history of the world.


It was created in 1935, in the middle of the American depression, and seems to model the effective, if not purported, American dream:

The object of the game is to own every piece of property and drive the other players into bankruptcy.

How else explain Bill Gates insouciance about being called a monopolist, or even being convicted in European courts of being a monopolist. Of course he's a monopolist, it's human nature.

"We're all monopolists at heart, and here free to be, liberty, whee!"

Controls on monopolistic rapacity are represented as Sylvester, to the individual entrepreneur's Tweety.


It's part of American culture: we root for the nerdy guy with the glasses and the high pitched voice to... own the whole world.

An individual's fantasy (we're probably talking mostly men here) of becoming king of everything, with no restraint on kingly prerogative, is so valuable, that the fantast would prefer slavery in a system that supports this possibility to mere comfort in a more egalitarian society.

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates talked with UW-Madison undergraduates about the promise of the technology industry when he stopped in their classroom during his 2005 College Tour. UW-Madison was one of five universities included in the tour, which is promoting greater youth involvement in technology careers. 
© UW-Madison University Communications 608-262-0067
Photo by: Jeff Miller
Date:  10/05    File#:  D100 digital camera frame 14338

As long as there's such a thing as kingship we can fantasize. And a major depression with its accompanying war every few generations is not too steep a price to pay to keep this fantasy alive.

For many the fantasy includes slave-girls or slave-boys, and the unrestrained ability to punish, or else, like, what's the point.  For Bill Gates the fantasy includes... we'd rather not know.

No winners without losers, no kings without slaves.

----- o -----

Friday, December 26, 2008


In the mid 1970s I interacted with a young middle-manager in Bank of America's Cashier's Division.  I was an analyst-writer with a consulting firm engaged to write their Telegraph Procedures Manual and Beth was BofA's project manager.


Beth was a little too principled for corporate bureaucracy and, at the time, she was bridling at orders to participate in the employee extortion scheme known as the United Way.

By the way, this is mentioned in wikipedia's article on the United Way:

Reportedly, some workplaces with United Way collection programs do not follow commonly used ethical procedures when soliciting donations. Employees may be pressured into donating... by management.

One time Beth mentioned that her husband was an engineer, "You know, choo-choos."

"How did you ever meet a train engineer?" I asked (we were on the thirtieth floor of the headquarters building of the biggest bank in the world).

She told me the story.

She met her husband, Jim, in college, both were in the business school, Jim was majoring in accounting.

Beth explained that Jim, when he was a kid, was wild about trains. There was never hesitation when little Jimmy was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.

"A train engineer," he would say.

He would read about trains, had pictures of trains on the wall, he'd ride his bike to the train yards to watch. The way some boys are about baseball, Jim was about trains.


Jim's parents indulged him but they were of a class that expected their child to go to college and have a  substantial career and a comfy lifestyle.

And Jim, as with most boys, had major interest-shifts with the onset of puberty. It's not a bad thing that at some point the opposite sex (in Jim's case) becomes more interesting than trains.

Jim had normal high school years and went to Berkeley and got his degree in accounting.

Then, with graduation looming Jim had to actually think about getting a job, either with an accounting firm, or in the accounting department of some big firm.

Jim had heard some career counselor advise people to seek jobs in industries they found interesting. So, almost on a lark, he took his resume to the San Francisco employment office of Southern Pacific Railroad.


He had a nice conversation with a personnel lady there, but unfortunately SP had no openings in their accounting department.

Then the lady said, "There is an opening in our Operator Apprenticeship program, but it probably doesn't pay..."

"You mean apprentice to become an engineer, a locomotive engineer?" Jim asked.

Jim jumped--almost out of his skin, and completed the application on the spot.

And that's how Beth's husband became a train engineer.

----- o -----

Thursday, December 25, 2008


At first I thought we were getting a Christmas present.  The sfgate headline said:

S.F. police chief announces retirement

But after opening the article we find only an IOU. Chief Fong promises to retire (phew!) but not until April (gdmf!).

Fong has been a long despised lackey of the mayor and his Pacific Heights puppeteers.


Above we see Chief Fong last Christmas stooging for the Zoo guy (in bg) who let a tiger escape and kill a zoo patron. They both blamed the victim.

In reviewing her tenure as chief, the story recalls:

Late in 2005, Fong and the mayor revealed that about 20 police officers would be suspended because of their alleged involvement in the creation of what they described as racist and sexist videos.

The video, to this gay person's eye was maybe slightly edgy but was completely understandable foxhole humor.  But boy-mayor Newsom and Chief Fong pounced, PC claws extended.


Now the cops are suing the City and will probably win.

So I stumble across the website of cop-tape videographer Andrew Cohen, his blog is called  Inside the SFPD.

Still on the force, Andrew Cohen speaks his mind. And how!

About departing Chief Fong:

She and Gavy are simply the most callous, fearful and slimy politicians this City has ever seen.

or about Police Officers' Association President Gary Delagnes [I went to SI with a Delagnes--a year ahead of me] in a recent post about Fong's possible successor:

The other rumor floating about is worth mentioning, but only for its laugh factor: Someone told me that Gary Delagnes was tossing his hat in the ring for the top spot. Oh yah, now that is exactly what we need. If there was any chance that we could go from bad to worse, this might be the answer.

And I was thinking that sfwillie might be getting a bit rantious!

So Officer Cohen disses the Mayor, the Chief, and the POA president. Way to go, Andrew.

Sweet Melissa (is she rantious enough?) provides a youtube of Newsom/Fong imagery over the soundtrack from Newsom's radio show in which he and Chief Fong announce her promise to retire.

Rather than rant about Fong and Newsom, she lets us listen to them ourselves.  Caution, wait four hours after eating. The article is here.

Even Her Sweetness is sour on Fong:

Our androgynous, antisocial and enigmatic chief had been hounded for at least a year to leave her post.

So, it's almost like a Christmas present.

----- o -----

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



"Gay marriage," is easier for our high paid pundits to enunciate than "Leviticus 20:13."

But Leviticus 20:13 is the real issue regarding Rick Warren, not gay marriage.

Ok, pundits, say it three times, you'll get the knack:

Leviticus 20:13.

Leviticus 20:13.

Leviticus 20:13.

Serial glutton Rick Warren is a professional Bible preacher and Bible teacher.  It's how he makes his living. It's how he can afford all those Big Macs.


As such he ought to be able answer this question and begin his answer with a Yes or a No.

Question: Do you disavow Leviticus 20:13?

What is Leviticus  20:13?

This is from the King James version of the Bible, as obtained from this online source:

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood [shall be] upon them.

The New American Bible is published by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Their translation of Lev 20:13 is even harsher:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives.

Here are season's greeting from the home page of the Catholic Bishops website:


It's like, "Merry Christmas to those we haven't killed yet."


Anyway, the Bible has no death penalty for gluttony so Pastor Rick will continue to consume his kajillion calories per day. It takes a lot of energy to save the world's starving babies.

----- o -----

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It's about Matthew Shepard.

This morning we heard Mike Barnicle accuse gay people of being intolerant toward Rick Warren, Obama's choice for inaugural invocation giver.

Like the other highly paid apologists for the billionaires they work for, Barnicle says that gays object to Warren because he opposes gay marriage.

This an absurd lie.  Gays voted for Obama, and he opposes gay marriage.

Rick Warren supports the murder of gay people.

That's why we think he's unacceptable.


Matthew Shepard was killed because he was gay and cute.  Some local boys, for whom homosexuality is the scariest thing on earth, found themselves attracted to Matthew.  They actually had stirrings in the loins when they saw him.

This caused such them emotional consternation and psychological weirdness, they attacked Matthew Shepard and left him to die, alone, in the dark of night, here:


What does this have to do with Rick Warren?

Rick Warren directly and enthusiastically contributes to the emotional consternation and psychological weirdness that caused Matthew's death.


Bible study classes take place in the Plaza Room, which shares the little green building (near the center around two o'clock) with the Terrace Cafe.

These are the first eight results on the Saddleback Family website for the search term "homosexuality."

new search

This might seem laughable until you consider that impressionable, sincere young boys are brought to Saddleback Church by their probably well meaning parents.  At least a few of them are and will be gay.

This is what they get in Bible study. [Snip from Skeptics Annotated Bible.]


The yokel kids who killed Matthew Shepard were simply following Leviticus 20-13.

The bible has all sorts of crazy rules that even contradict each other. Credible theologians disagree on many issues. Which rules a pastor chooses to emphasize tell us more about the pastor than about the will of God.

Rick Warren is attracted, for some weird reason, to the kill-gays part of the Bible.

Shame on you Mike Barnicle for defending this kind of hatred masked as religion, and shame on Barack Obama.

btw: Warren claims to have gay friends. I refuse to believe this until he produces at least two people who claim to be practicing homosexuals and claim that Rick Warren is their friend. And we're not talking about Ted Haggard!

----- o -----

Monday, December 22, 2008


A Chinese New Year Spectacular is coming back to the Opera House in January.

Two years ago sfmike at Civic Center blog did an amusing post about the connection between a show at the Opera House and the Chinese movement called Falun Gong. We've heard about Falun Gong mostly because of the Chinese government's reported efforts to suppress it.

Included in Mike's post is one of the funniest photographs I've ever seen:


Strangely, the producers of the upcoming show are still not mentioning the connection.

Their two sites make no mention of Falun, neither Gong nor Dafa.

I think this comes from the contention that Falun Gong is a cultural/religious movement and has nothing to do with politics.

To this western eye, the whole exercise seems laughable.

From Divine Performances site:

The masterful choreography ranges from grand imperial processions to legions of thunderous drums, with gorgeously costumed dancers moving in stunning synchronized patterns.

From their SFShow.net site:

This culture renaissance centering on classical themes and Chinese traditions that define "beauty" and "compassion", is to restore the essence of authentic Chinese traditional "virtue" and "value" and bring its true spirit to magnificent life, free of any distortions from the Communist Party.

Most strangely, the sfshow site boasts about the show's increasing popularity... with a BAR CHART!


Any doubt regarding the connection between Falun Gong and the upcoming show can be dispelled by a visit to ClearWisdom.net: the snippet below is from the top left of their home page.


Call me culturally insensitive, but this all cracks me up.

sfmike did another excellent post in October about this (somewhat) stealthy propaganda operation.

----- o -----

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Throughout the "Pastor" Rick Warren controversy defenders of Obama's position point out that for the first time a gay contingent, a marching band complete with male twirlers, will appear in the parade. As if that counterbalances something.

It's like, the straight white males will take care of the theology, gays can handle the entertainment.


Youngsters won't know what I'm talking about but I have this mental picture of Sammy Davis Jr doing a tapdance at a George Wallace rally

Anyway, I strongly suggest that the Lesbian and Gay Band Association withdraw from the inaugural parade.

Here's a first cut at a statement:

The controversy surrounding the participation of an openly anti-gay minister in the upcoming inauguration requires that the LGBA withdraw from participating in the inaugural parade.

The rights of gays and lesbians are not a matter of opinion over which we can have civilized disagreement. For us our rights are a matter of life and death.

Rick Warren's freely expressed views are not just wrongheaded and hateful, they are dangerous to gay and lesbian people everywhere. With smiles, Pastor Warren encourages other to act on their hate.

While we strongly wish to participate in this great national event, we cannot do so if it means associating ourselves, even remotely, with the hateful views of Rick Warren.

Regardless of what the national gay band group decides, I fully expect the San Francisco contingent to withdraw. For a San Francisco gay group to walk shoulder to shoulder with Rick Warren would signal the final death of anything like San Francisco values.

"San Francisco" becomes just another term-of-art in the real estate biz.

I know this would be a sacrifice but not the first sacrifice ever made to protect gay rights.

Back in 1969 there were gay people enjoying quiet cocktails in comfy if discreet lounges on the upper East Side, while down in the Village drag queens and hustlers were battling police outside the Stonewall Bar.


BTW: Never take behavioral advice from a fat man. He preaches that gay people should resist the need for sexual intimacy, a need near the core of our experience as humans. Whereas this fat fuck Warren can't resist a goddamn Big Mac.

----- o -----

Friday, December 19, 2008


Of all the ministers in America who could have been chosen to give the inaugural invocation, Obama chose someone who thinks that gay people should be put in jail.

This is unacceptable.

No self respecting democrat, let alone gay person, would appear on the same stage as Rick Warren.

This is not a matter of nuance.

Rick Warren's unretracted public position is that gay sex (we're not talking about marriage, or civil union, but simply two adults of the same sex getting intimate) is the moral equivalent of child molestation.

Would Barack reach out to a minister who preached that interacial sex is the equivalent of bestiality?

Sounds kind of harsh? It wasn't so long ago.


I was never enthusiastic about Obama.  My anger about the Rick Warren choice would be the same if it were McCain instead of Obama being inaugurated.

I can imagine the anger of a gay person who, say, contributed money to Rezko's buddy, soon to be President Cool-Breeze.

----- o -----

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The last eight years, not to mention the sum total of human history, provide strong argument against hereditary power.

Our current George Bush would be completely unknown except for his dad, who would have been completely unknown had he not been the son of Nazi-loving* Senator Prescott Bush.

*According to wikipedia:

Bush was a member of the Board of Directors of Union Banking Corp, whose assets were seized under the Trading with the Enemy Act due to ownership by "enemy nationals".

So now Caroline Kennedy wants to be a senator. If appointed she would take office without having received even one vote in any election anywhere.

Apparently she doesn't much like the state she seeks to represent, per this SFGate story:

A Kennedy spokesman declined to tell the New York Times this week whether the Park Avenue resident had ever traveled to Buffalo, Syracuse or Rochester - at least before Wednesday, when she visited Syracuse.

Every little girl asks for a pony. Not many get one.

Caroline Kennedy

The rich are different from the rest of us.

They're able to give their kids ponies, and senate seats.

Because of her ability to raise funds, the pundits say, Caroline is very attractive to party bigwigs.

Ok, but hereditary journalism?

I, like most thinking cable news viewers, was appalled at the outpouring of accolades for the suddenly deceased Tim Russert, a mediocre hack who was so darned pleased to be a mediocre hack. Such high praise can be explained only as an irrational reaction to sudden loss, part of the grieving process.

But then, for NBC to inflict Russert's son, Luke, upon us is just too much. Luke Russert is less talented than his hack father, but he bring bangs, and a smirk.


Sfwillie understands that he is not an important demographic, but he wants MSNBC to know that he immediately switches the channel whenever Luke Russert's face appears.

If the family needs the income, that's one thing, but don't give the kid air time. Sheesh!

----- o -----

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yesterday was the final exam, actually a recital, for my City College woodwinds class.


I had the usual nervousness about any performance.

I was performing in three pieces, a cute Mozart minuet duet with a bass clarinet, a flute trio, and a flute quartet.


Making me nervous was the fact that we had never actually played all the way through any of the pieces without stopping.

But the audience was supportive and we plowed through all three pieces, arriving at the last note together--most important, whatever's gone before-- and received hearty applause.


Included in the program were two pieces by the advanced "jazz ensemble," four students (three saxes, one flute), plus my teacher playing rhythm piano, plus two pros on electric bass and drums.


And the room, unlike our usual classroom was designed for acoustics and my flute sounded great.

When playing with others, even people with rudimentary skills will have moments when it sounds really good and the performers have stepped inside the composers world view.

I get full body tingle.

It's encouraging to know that one needn't be some pro virtuoso to experience musical full body tingle.

And the connection with the other musicians approaches nearly pure cooperation, like, we really do have the same intentions. A couple of times in my softball career I was the middle person in a successful relay throw from the outfield to home plate. The gave me the same feeling of connection

The music rooms are in a corner of the Arts building that's connected to the backstage area of the Diego Rivera Theater. In a courtyard between the two building is this large sculpture. Passing by, I say to myself, Bring me the head of Diego Rivera.


I enrolled in a class called Stage Band for next semester. I think their final concert is in Diego's theater. Moving on up.

----- o -----

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So I'm sitting at my new Vista machine looking at the morning headlines on My Yahoo just the way a person is supposed to be able to do, and I see this AP thing: Explorer Security Hole Not Fixed: Microsoft.

So I'm thinking, I got this new machine because my old machine got it's wazoo trojanized:

Users of all current versions of MicrosoftCorp.'s Internet Explorer browser might be vulnerable to having their computers hijacked because of a serious security hole in the software that had yet to be fixed Monday.

So why the heck doesn't Bill Gates pay someone to fix the damn flaw.  Is it too much ask of the richest man in the world that he stop fucking up us poor folks' computers?

Apparently it IS too much to ask:

Microsoft said it is investigating the flaw and is considering fixing it through an emergency software patch outside of its normal monthly updates, but declined further comment. The company is telling users to employ a series of complicated workarounds to minimize the threat.

I think users should employ lawyers and class action suits to minimize the chance of this happening again.

And I'm thinking we should get that Prosecutor from Chicago on Bill Gates' case.

Many security experts, meanwhile, are urging Internet Explorer users to use another browser until a patch is released.

So I'm like, holy shitfuck, this is  Internet Explorer I'm using right now!

One hour later: I'm using Firefox and loving it. Bye-bye IE.  This doesn't mean I won't join the class action.

I'd almost forgotten what a prick Bill Gates is.

----- o -----

Monday, December 15, 2008


A few weeks ago, in a discussion about corruption, a highly educated Philippine-American challenged my schoolboy sense of morality.

When the Philippines were ruled by the Spanish (1565-1898), my friend explained, the laws and rules of the economy were simple:

In such a situation, he asked, is it really corruption for the native Philippinos to disobey the law and engage in shadow economics?

Especially when the straight and narrows leads to world-famous Smoky Mountain.

Sometimes I wonder about the legality of the backyard building projects on my block.

I know that this big white extension went through a permitting process, but all the other outbuildings?

Check out the piping. My naked eye saw it as electrical conduit, to power the outbuilding. Closer inspection shows it to be a downspout from the roof of the little extension emptying onto the roof of the outbuilding, which has it's own downspout on the other side.

Not that I'm complaining. The low density nature of this neighborhood couldn't persist through population growth and the real estate boom. Many of these houses were originally owned by city workers--firemen, policemen, my best friend's dad was a building inspector.

And each house was occupied by one nuclear family, with one car, parked overnight in the basement. The average number of occupants per house was maybe 4.

Our house was built with about 1100 sqft of living space, which ain't gonna cut it for a current buyer paying 50-60 times the original selling price.

Most owners built (non-permitted) in-law units in the otherwise empty basement. In recent decades some owners have turned their entire basements into living space, and some into apartments that they rent out, also non-permitted, with revenue, I imagine, unreported.

I can handle the increased density. What bugs me is that these backyard projects are ongoing and will be for the foreseeable future, which means that on any nice day, especially on weekends, when I open my windows wide to let in the beautiful ocean air, it's all hammers and buzz saws.

There's one guy, not in these pictures, who has a commercial (I assess) carpentry operation in a backyard lean-to. On nice days he likes to bring his sawtable outdoors.

It's like a tenement, sort of.

So, do I want to sic public officials on any of these people? Hell no!

I'm thinking Ed Jew isn't the only Ed Jew-type in city government.

BTW: According to wikipedia, Spanish explorer/culturefucker Ferdinand Magellan was killed by native Phillipine warriors led by Rajah Lapu-Lapu in the Battle of Mactan.

----- o -----

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Early morning court conditions can be iffy.

If it's pouring down rain I don't even get out of bed, but frequently I can't tell by looking out my window whether the courts in GGP might be playable.

Sometimes, since I'm up anyway, I'll take the trip, even though the chances of playing seem slim, just to get out of the house and get the day going.

One morning last week seemed impossible, but I went anyway, and there was my partner with undampened spirits.

Yukiko had a little cut above her lip that she wouldn't let me photograph.

We spent an hour volleying across the net, trying to keep the ball in the air. When we missed and the ball got too wet, we'd retire it and get a dry one.

We had the courts to ourselves. Only an occasional dog and owner would stroll by.

And the trees, of course, constant spectators.

----- o -----

Saturday, December 13, 2008


One can’t expect perfection. At best one can avoid victimhood. With this mindset I suffered through twice- or thrice-daily autoupdates for McAfee’s security suite. While these updates are supposed to happen in the background, they made other programs so jerky that I’d just wait, and suffer till the updates completed.

Despite this I got infected with a couple of Trojans, which pop-ups told me McAfee had removed or quarantined. Not so.

The nice lady in India told me that an infection that had progressed as far as I described required the help of McAfee’s “virus removal team.”

To get with McAfee’s “team,” the nice lady told me, I’d have to purchase a “peen” for either $70 or $90. The peen gets me one-time virus removal: for $70 I do the keystrokes at their direction, for $90 the team does the keystrokes themselves.

So, finally, I had to ask the nice lady to spell the word that sounded to me like “peen.”

“P-I-N,” she said. She wanted to sell me a fucking pin number!

It became clear, and she confirmed: I pay McAfee for protection, and when McAfee fails to protect me, I pay McAfee even more.

My XP machine had worked ok for four years, about two years longer than I expected, so rather than spend $90 for a one-time fix, I spent $400 for a new, and much faster, Vista machine.

The Trojan, I guess this is what they do, took over my internet connection and blasted out email spam. The Trojan rendered my internet connection unusable, but it isn’t doing additional damage to my old computer, such as replicating files until the hard drive bursts, so I can access the information on it.

Rather than buy a new monitor to go along with my new computer, I figured I could get a splitter/switch to allow both my old (infected) computer and the new one to access the one monitor I already had. I know it’s stupid, but even that much contact between old and new made me paranoid.

So I checked my cheapo flat panel TV and found a socket labeled “PC” and “VGA” and used a $24 cable from Radioshack to hook up my old computer to my TV. Amazingly it works!

During this, I had to get my car smog-checked, for what I was told might be $90. We’ve all heard stories about unscrupulous stations that fail cars on purpose to get the repair work.

I guess I’m just a worrier.

So I asked around and was told to go to a particular test-only station in my neighborhood. The young guy, a number-one-son type, who wrote my service order was all smiley. First thing he asked was who had referred me, and was happy to hear my answer. $54.95 out-the-door, tout compris.

Frying crullers.

On the way home I stopped at the office of my insurance agent to meet him face to face after a seven year relationship, and to meet his assistant who had recently done some admin shuffles to get lower rates for me and my brother. Of course he acted glad to see me.

I paid the latest installment, so I’m good to drive for another six months.

I’d like to sell my car and get back on Muni where I can get some reading done, except for grocery shopping. I really enjoy having a car to get groceries home from the supermarket, which is more than a mile away. If there were reliable cab service I’d gladly pay six or seven dollars, or ten, for a ride home with my groceries. I’m talking about a gallon of milk, two half gallons of juice, and four two-liter bottles of Diet Coke, per trip. This is not something one does on Muni. And that’s just the beverages.

[Click on pic for source.]

I guess a true San Franciscan dines out and/or eats hand to mouth from the corner mom and pop.

At the big Safeway by the Mint on Market Street one used to see older Negro gentlemen in their full-size sedans parked by the exits waiting to take neighboorhood housewives home with their groceries. I wonder if they still do that.

Obama, smog certificate, new computer, if I score some socks and pjs for Christmas I’ll be all set for 2009. Best of all, economic trends will be providing me with plenty of company in my poverty and unemployment.

----- o -----

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Here’s an illustration of why I’m glad I’m gay.

It was a collegiate women’s softball game maybe six months ago (or six years given my spongiform memory) that ended with a walk-off home run, or, at least the ball was hit over the fence.

But, fluke of flukes, the batter-baserunner tripped rounding first base and broke her leg—she was unable to continue rounding the bases as required to actually score the run.

The normal course would be that the injured player would be helped off the field and she would be called “out” and the run would not be scored. Within the rules there are only two ways she could score the run: by hobbling or crawling by herself and touching the bases, or, if there had been a runner on base ahead of her, that runner could have helped her around the bases.

The rules didn’t anticipate what actually happened: members of the opposing team carried the injured player around the bases so that her run would score.

This was touted in the news as an example of extraordinary sportsmanship, actually, “sportswomanship,” because men would never have considered the possibility of assisting an opponent in that way.

In my opinion the coach of the team that assisted their opponent should have been summarily fired: he or she failed to teach the basic goal of the game—to win.

I would be happy to argue this issue with another man. If I failed to convince, I’d dismiss the other guy as a pussy*.

But arguing this with a woman would be way dicier. Whenever a man and a woman argue there’s a chance that both are right, that there’s a male point of view and a female point of view.

At least that’s what a man who wants peace (or its homonym) must pretend.

There’s a whole lot of male cognitive dissonance that’s required for a successful heterosexual marriage.

Many men prefer the company of other men, only the sex thing draws them to women. It’s common these days to hear straight men say they wish they were gay, but they’re just not attracted to men.

So, when gay men insinuate that their relationships are “equal” to heterosexual marriages, it’s like George Bush saying that his wearing the uniform of the Texas Air National Guard was “equal” to seasick, seasoaked, scaredshitless soldiers storming Normandy.

As far as I’m concerned heterosexual men are real heroes, especially those who hang around to support and raise the kids, which in many cases are the women’s idea, and to accept the screeching dissonances of living with a member of the opposite sex.

BTW: I reluctantly voted against Proposition 8. I’d prefer an amendment establishing marriage for heterosexuals and domestic partnerships for everyone else, including heterosexuals who don’t want to get married, AND an amendment declaring that no tangible benefit of either status be denied the other.

That way, penis-in-vagina sex remains the only type of sexual activity that is explicitly approved by society, while everything else (adult, consensual blah blah) is allowed.

I think it’s too much to expect society to explicitly approve anal intercourse as equivalent to the kind of sex that has the potential for making babies.

The passage of Prop 8 was viewed by some as a setback for Gavin Newsom’s political ambitions. Good.

* “pussy” short for “pusillanimous (person)”

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Saturday, November 15, 2008


I’ve been reading the Greek tragedies. This is my second time. One Christmas vacation during college I determined to read the complete Greek tragedies, which is less formidable than it sounds.

There are only twenty-nine of them extant, and they average maybe 1300 lines. Back then I got bogged down in Euripides and left two or three of his unread. The same thing is happening this time.

I told myself I’d read everything else before doing the Oresteia and the Oedipus cycle, but I couldn’t hack it and am now in the middle of the Eumenides.

Anyway, I’m impressed this time with the centrality of emotion in all the plays. There is never a dearth of “alas, I am ruined,” “woe is me,” “life is nothing but pain.”

We must accept our fate, i.e., death, but we are definitely not happy about it. How we go about dealing with anger and frustration creates our life stories, but in the long run we aren’t much different than goats being led to the sacrifice: we bleat then we bleed.

So, a couple weeks ago I’m driving to the tennis courts in Golden Gate Park for my usual morning session (poor me!) and I’m totally steamed about the bailout news—like, this guy Paulson is fucking me and I never said yes and he ain’t even my type.

The usual bicyclists were annoying but there were a couple of egregious near-death encounters with spandexers whipping through stop signs out of a blinding rising sun. Readers here know how pathetic I find the bicycle movement as an expression of left wing politics.

Why do these guys (and gals) risk their lives pitting their flimsy frames against evil death machines?

[Click picture for source.]

Looking at my own boiling rage I understood their need for physical confrontation. Young people (more than old people) yearn for it. Warfare, gang warfare, and individualized violence are the undesired forms of confrontation. Political action (which is basically the threat of warfare) is the alternative, and physical confrontation is part of it.

Civil rights in the fifties and sixties wasn’t about constitutional law, or some Marxist theory. It was about fire hoses, and police dogs, and martyrdom. The white kids (and not-so-youngs) who went south for Freedom Summer were in the same kind of peril that soldiers experience.

Similarly, the bicycle activists are putting their own lives on the line.

The felt need to confront, and if necessary die, seems better than suffering in silence and feeling like one will explode.

The evil perps in this country who deserve to be confronted have so well insulated themselves that the enemy, for bicyclists, has become anyone who drives a car.

Meanwhile Pelosi and Newsom and the building trade unionists will be spending more than a billion dollars on a three-stop subway that was cooked up as a payoff to Rose Pak for her support in some pissant political race, long forgotten.

This time through, my favorite play is Philoctetes, which is about political conniving. In it, Neoptolemus (son of Achilles) responds to Odysseus’ advice to employ deceit against the blameless man:

…I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating. …Do you not find it vile yourself, this lying?

Not if the lying brings our rescue with it.

How can a man not blush to say such things?

When one does something for gain, one need not blush.

BTW: It was Neoptolemus who eventually killed Priam, king of Troy. He also killed Astyanax, the infant son of Hector and subject of the “the most touching scene” in the Iliad.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


Rudolpho Austria organizes tennis matches for old folks at Golden Gate Park every morning of the year. It’s referred to as “Rudy’s Group.” It’s strictly volunteer and there’s no money involved except standard court fees. [email me for more info on Rudy's Group.]

Rudy, or “Rudolpho,” as he prefers, performs a service that we might expect of a playground director. Such services are called “programs.”

I once asked a playground director about the “programs” he was required to run. He said,
“Willie, my boss at Park Lodge doesn’t care about programs. I could conduct a hundred programs, or zero… my boss doesn’t care.”
Anyway, the upcoming economic depression will put increasing stress on the public health system. Out-of-work people tend to get depressed and have more physical illnesses.

One cheap solution would be increased recreational programs at our public parks. Instead of staying home consuming pork rinds and Oprah, the out-of-work could get out of the house, get some health-promoting exercise, and socialize with people like themselves.

The only difference between the out-of-work and the folks in Rudy’s Group is that Rudy’s Groupers are unemployed voluntarily.

I think this would be a terrific use of City resources. But it ain’t gonna happen. Why?

Because the Rec and Park employees who would actually do the programs will all be laid off. The remaining Park-Lodgers mostly suffer from a work related partial disability—fat assedness—which renders them unable leave their deskchairs (except for breaks.)

It’s just like City road repair crews, if you’ve ever seen them “at work”: there’s one guy digging in the ground, two guys watching the one guy dig, and two supervisors, who haven’t had a callous in twenty years, watching it all, “supervising.”

So, with the City budget cuts, which member of the road crew gets laid off?

Answer: The guy who actually does the digging. Those remaining now have an official excuse for doing nothing—staffing shortage.

Happy depression!

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